Broadway To Vegas


Copyright: December 7, 1998
By: Laura Deni


Frank Sinatra
This coming Saturday would have been Frank Sinatra's 83rd birthday.Though anticipated, his death last May, left fans devastated. Whether Ol' Blue Eyes is resting in peace or turning over in his grave, his highly charged lifestyle continues to make his presence known.

On the Sinatra Family Website, run by daughter Nancy - - the eldest daughter invited people to apply on line for the official Frank Sinatra credit card. His signature and photo appear on the card. The New York Post ran a large story proclaiming it was new and Jerry Vale was quoted as saying "I'll be the first in line (to get one.)"

An offer to receive a Frank Sinatra credit card arrived in the mail years before he passed away
That Frank Sinatra credit card has been around for years. Flyers came in the mail, it was touted by the official Sinatra Fan Club and The Frank Sinatra Credit Card- with the same signature and picture was a heavy advertiser on a national weekly radio show that featured Sinatra music. Same benefits for using the Sinatra credit card. You earned points towards receiving Sinatra merchandise.

What's new is the speculation in the New York Post on the licensing agreement that will afford Sinatra, Inc. substantial income potential from the issue and use of the card.

Using an analogue of the I Love New York credit card the Post reported that the state receives $1 for every new card holder, $1.50 for renewals and 25 cents for each charge.

The Sinatra children have received a lot of criticism for merchandising their late father. The truth is The Chairman of the Board was merchandising himself long before he died. He started selling his own spaghetti sauce back when he was remembering the lyrics, hitting all of the notes and kicking to the side anyone who got in his way.

He brought in his Rat Pack cronies for a Los Angeles restaurant press conference to tout his food products. The man himself delighted at seeing his signature affixed to jars on grocery store shelves.

When he got into the food biz I thought he should have lent his name to a Sinatra perfume. When you want to seduce a man place a drop of Sinatra perfume behind your knees and watch him drop to his. I also thought the Sinatra signature belonged on an extremely high quality line of lingerie. Beautiful for him to look at as you're taking it off. At Valentines Day and Christmas a bonus Sinatra record with product purchase. Perhaps a tad bit too far to the left of Whoopee, but consider a line of Sinatra hosiery. Show a long legged woman wearing the Sinatra hose ---what a man prefers to have wrapped around his neck.

Frank's idea men convinced Sinatra to join Jerry Garcia in coming out with a Sinatra tie, which didn't sell very well. Somewhere there is a warehouse full of those cravats.

As for Jerry Vale pining for a Sinatra credit card, I'm sure he'll have no problem getting one - he's just a few years too late in being the first to swipe the Sinatra card for his purchases.

In addition to being a talented singer, Vale has always been an astute businessman. He was also, apparently, a much closer friend to Frank Sinatra, than many people realized - a condition that is causing some legal confusion.

When Sinatra was alive - beginning years ago when he was fit and competent - continuing to right before his death when he was forgetting people and not able to recognize everyone - he promised his son Frank, Jr. that his only son would inherit all of Sinatra's musical arrangements. That agreement was frequently referenced over the years and many people knew of the promise father had made to son.

Unknown to Frank, Jr., shortly before Sinatra died he started giving away his musical arrangements to friends who visited him. Jerry Vale says he visited Frank on a regular basis and on one of the visits Sinatra gave him an original Nelson Riddle arrangement. It should be stressed that Vale was not the only singer to receive an arrangement - given by Frank shortly before he passed away.

Recently Frank, Jr. contacted Vale asking Vale to return the Nelson Riddle arrangement, explaining to Vale that he had inherited all of the arrangements. Vale has declined to return the arrangement, saying it was a gift, it's valuable and he has possession of it.

The ownership may end up being determined in a courtroom.

Francis Albert Sinatra, whose life was never dull, has managed from the grave to orchestrate high drama in perpetuity.


Despite a drop in Vegas temperatures heart throb Antonio Banderas steamed up the Strip when he arrived in Las Vegas last week to film scenes for his new movie White River Kid.

The flick also stars Ellen Barkin, Beau Bridges, Bob Hoskins and Swoosie Kurtz.

The production is a reunion for Banderas and director Arne Glimcher, who directed Banderas in The Mambo Kings, which happened to be the sexy hunk's English-language acting debut.


Forget those vows about poverty and chastity. Deciding to drop the habit and get into bed, a former nun traded a spiritual occupation for a carnal one.

Her experiences in a Nevada brothel, as well as other ladies servicing the Bible's oldest profession, are detailed in a new book.

Written by Lora Shaner, Madam: Chronicles of a Nevada Cathouse details what happened during the five years she worked as the madam at Sherri's Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada.

In addition to the former nun who picked up another habit besides praying, there is an architectural student who needed money for school. She drafted her own set of plans and built her career on her back.

In the 14 months that the third year student worked there, the book claims she earned $128,000 after taxes.That buys a lot of drafting paper. The aspiring building builder used her brothel earned money to finish her schooling.


Wallis Simpson-the ice cube trick resulted in expensive "ice"
A new musical about the romance that resulted in Edward VIII tossing away a kingdom so he could legally continue his sexual romps with his beloved, is debuting at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Only A Kingdom, a new musical based on the true story of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson features book, music and lyrics by Judith Shubow Steir. The production is directed by Scott Schwartz.

Stan Chandler plays the king who gave up the crown for the woman he loved. Kaitlin Hopkins stars as the American divorcee who brought the king to his knees.

Pamela Harriman
Reportedly she had a sexual antic with an ice cube that did the trick.

As a good will gesture Wallis passed on the manipulation to Pamela Harriman, who added the cold cube maneuver to heat up the sheets when she bedded almost every man who was rich and powerful.

Only A Kingdom is at the Pasadena Playhouse through Dec. 20.

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John Mahoney, David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammer
The cast of the hit television series Frasier - that's Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney had desperately wanted to replace the original cast of the Broadway hit Art. The magnificent ensemble play, which brought home the Tony last year, would have been simply perfect for the Frasier threesome. Unfortunately, when the original cast - Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina - were due to leave, the sitcom trio didn't nail down the deal.

Now comes word that Grammer, Hyde Pierce and Mahoney are set to star in a London West end production of Art.The eager threesome are already rehearsing in Kelsey's living room. No word as to whether Art has been rewritten to find a place for Eddie.

Art originally opened in London two years ago. It's a hit - both critically and at the bank - having grossed more than $34 million worldwide. In addition to the Broadway show, and the Frasier stars heading into the London production, Art opens in Los Angeles on Jan 12. A British tour is planned for next year.


Luciano Pavarotti appeared in the RivieraSuperstar Center in a sold out performance to benefit Verdi House, a retirement home for opera performers
Luciano Pavarotti, who says he's only lost 20 pounds but looks as though he has lost more than I weigh, has been signed for a delayed christening of the new Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. The 3,300 room resort which includes the new 424-room Four Seasons Hotel opens in March. Pavarotti's concert performance is slated for April 10, which will inaugurate Mandalay Bay's 12,000-seat entertainment and sports complex.

The famed tenor last performed in Las Vegas on March 24, 1984. With Emerson Buckley conducting The Las Vegas Symphony Orchestra, Pavarotti followed an overture to Semiramide by singing "Una furtiva lagrima" from L'elisir D'Amore. Ten selections later he closed the program with "Cielo e Mar" from La Gioconda. The Riviera pulled out all stops for Pavarotti's appearance. First there was a small press conference, held in a hotel suite, where the singer sat among the reporters causally answering questions.

That was followed by a formal dinner that gave notice - if anyone had a doubt - that the hotel could dish out a gourmet repast with the best of them.

A white gloved waiter approached my table and informed me that Mr. Pavarotti would like to speak with me. I was led to his chair, which looked more like a throne. He caressed my hand before kissing it. He complimented my dress and I think he thanked me for something I had written about him. I was still caught up in the hand kissing.

I thought the tenor was fascinating - completely charming. Apparently in the last decade so have a lot of women. The opera star has become a full fledged celebrity - more attention has been paid to his sex life and his weight than his singing performances.

It's part of the price paid for mass appeal.

People who wouldn't dream of going to an opera have been seduced into appreciating the music. That was the game plan when Pavarotti and his longtime producer, Tibor Rudas, carefully crafted a plan to bring more people into the "good music" fold.

Luciano Pavarotti singing with Sheryl Crow
Millions were won over with the landmark 3 Tenors concert in Paris. Since the 3 Tenors event Pavarotti has presented sold-out concerts in famous arenas such as Madison Square Garden, Royal Albert Hall in London, the Hollywood Bowl, as well as in New York's Central Park for a record-breaking crowd of 500,000 in 1993.

On Pavarotti and Friends, the superstar sings with the Spice Girls, Stevie Wonder and Trisha Yearwood. Now, he's about to team up for a repeat performance with the Spice Girls.

Pavarotti returns to Vegas
As for the corpulent Pavarotti - if he intends to maintain his weight loss, he's going to need some extra willpower at Mandalay Bay. Fifteen restaurants will offer the creations of top-rated chefs. And - that ever tempting room service is just a phone call away.

Pavarotti in a casino is also going to be a spectator sport. Pavarotti divulges that when he goes into the casino his gambling style is to pick one number and bet that number all night long. Casino bosses love gamblers that bet the same number strategy - they tend to lose.

Luciano Pavarotti in Concert is produced by Rudas, by special permission with Mandalay Bay Resorts. Tickets priced from $50 to $450 go on sale Saturday, December 19 at all TicketMaster locations.

The singer will perform this Thursday, December 10, at the United Nations in New York celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human rights. The tenor has been extremely active in raising funds to help children. He earmarks the profits from one of his CD recordings each year to go to children's aid.

Prior to his Vegas gig the performer will return to the Metropolitan Opera for three performances in Tosca in March.


The Broadway mega hit Chicago is going to be a featured attraction at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

In addition to the above mentioned Pavarotti, the soon to open resort has contracted for the Tony winning Chicago to have a permanent home in the 1,700 seat showroom.

The hotel insists that this version of Chicago will not be a cut up dinner theatre version, but the complete uncut 2 hour and fifteen minute Broadway show, with one fifteen-minute intermission.

The production will feature a cast of 17 performers plus 17 on stage musicians. A "name" performer will star in the female lead, although that moniker won't be announced until January.

Tickets are on sale, ranging from $55-$75. The show opens March 2.


Publicity relations people are an interesting breed. They earn a living by promoting other people - of politically spinning the news - of attempting to control the press for the benefit of their clients. At worst they are a necessary evil. At best... well ... you'd almost think they were normal. Some are nice and - gasp! - even make wonderful friends.

Robert Levinson
Now comes a press agent who is straddling both sides of the professional fence. Robert Levinson apparently decided not to spend all of his time writing press releases about other people. He went and authored his own book. No, it's not a thinly veiled tell-all about his former clients. Rather, it's a work of fiction.

Using his PR wiles Levinson cleverly devised an attention getting premise ---a purported affair between Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

In the Levinson tomb The Elvis and Marilyn Affair to be published in 1999 by Forge, A Tom Doherty Associates Book, NYC, Levinson has created actress Stevie Marriner, a sex queen soap actress who becomes the suspect in the murder of a once famous movie director. To prove her innocence she calls upon her ex-husband, a former Los Angeles newspaper crime reporter turned popular columnist, to solve the crime. That goal requires him to untangle the truth surrounding the rumor that Presley and Monroe had an affair and there are love letters to prove it. Meantime the celebrity bodies keep falling.

We wish him well.


Mel Lazarus
On Thursday, Dec. 10 Mel Lazarus, creator of the popular cartoons Momma and Miss Peach will explore the special relationship of cartoons and popular culture in an illustrated lecture at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Miss Peach currently appears in 300 newspapers worldwide and is celebrating its 33rd anniversary.

Momma, created in 1970 and published in more than 400 newspapers worldwide, is based partly on his mother, Frances - although she didn't recognize herself. When Lazarus first showed the comic strip to his mother, she replied, "You caught Aunt Helen to a tee!"

Lazarus is also a successful novelist and screenwriter. He is currently president of the National Cartoonists Society. To order tickets call (213) 660-8587.


THE BELLAGIO HOTEL in Las Vegas has filed a lawsuit against the Nevada Tax Commission to overturn an October 5-3 vote which prevented Steve Wynn's mega-resort from gaining any tax breaks on it multi-million dollar art collection, unless admission was free. Patrons are currently being charged $10 to view the exhibit, which has included masterpieces by Matisse, Van Gogh and Monet.

RODNEY DANGERFIELD found some respect in a settlement he's entered into with the Irvine, Calif. based Internet company Epoch Network. The comedian sued Epoch for $2.5 million claiming they pirated his "name and likeness" for it's own commercial purposes. In 1995 Dangerfield contracted with the internet provider to operate his website That site was to carry photos, lines from his movies and a joke of the day. According to court papers, Dangerfield logged on and discovered Epoch had put his picture on their own website, suggesting he was endorsing its services. The complaint also alleged that Epoch put banner ads and links to other websites, even though Dangerfield didn't approve third-party advertising. In settling the lawsuit the company admitted no wrongdoing. In addition to settling lawsuits, Rodney is the owner of Dangerfield's Comedy Club in New York City.

ANGELO, GORDON & CO. a private investment firm that specializes in trying to turn around financially troubled companies has pumped $23.5 million into Livent, the Broadway producer which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. Since 1996 the company posted losses of $138 million. In cost cutting maneuvers Livent has; yesterday, Dec. 6, closed its unprofitable tour of Show Boat; last week laid off 100 employees including senior producer Marty Bell, who was developmental head for Ragtime and Fosse;. closed the national tour of Ragtime, and sued Livent founder Garth Drabinsky for fraud - a charge which is emphatically denied. The new money should keep Livent breathing for about six more weeks. Without Angelo, Gordon & Co. coming on board, Livent would have been forced to close its shows, including the Broadway production of Ragtime.


Riverdance Program
If you're not aware of Riverdance, Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance, or the proliferation of spin off cousins, you're awareness level needs a tune up.

Riverdance had its world premiere at the Point Theatre in Dublin in February 1995. It received unanimous critical acclaim. Since then, more than 3 million people worldwide have seen it, plus another 3 million who have purchased the video version of the production.

Not bad for a routine that began as a six minute dance inserted into the Eurovision Song Contest as international entertainment in 1994.

A scene from Riverdance
Riverdance opens a five performance engagement this Friday, Dec. 11 at the MGM Grand, coming to Vegas from a Denver sell-out. Denverites were so enthralled with the production that the Colorado folk were miffed that the production had contractual obligations that required the hoofers to come to Nevada. More than 62,260 tickets were sold for the 22 performances from November 19 to December 6 at Buell Theatre, Denver. Ticket prices were $23 to $58. Denver Center Attractions which had booked the show wanted to add more performances, but couldn't because of the Riverdance Vegas date. They eventually squeezed out another performance, a preview matinee on November 19, which sold out faster that the dancers could do a time step.

Lord of the Dance
While Riverdance was setting Denver records, Lord of the Dance which Michael Flatley started when he left Riverdance to form his own company, was being advertised on South Carolina television.

Our roving South Carolina reporter Trudy Knight-Peek had eagerly looked forward to attending Lord of the Dance. "I had heard that Michael had hung up his shoes -- however, when advertised on television, it was Michael Flatley's The Lord of the Dance, and most people, including myself, thought that he would be in this production. We were wrong and a little disappointed," reported Knight-Peek.

"On November 25 Lord of the Dance performed at the new Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C. This was probably not the best day as Thanksgiving followed," she theorized. "Only half of the center was used for the performance and not even half of the half was full."

"The stage seemed to be extremely small," continued Knight-Peek. "But, all performers did an excellent job. The violinists were superb, as well as the vocals. I did have one small problem -- there were no other musicians to be seen. I believe Deirdra was doing a "kareoke" thing," said Knight-Peek referring to Deirdre Gilsenan who played Erin, The Goddess. Gilsenan is considered one of the most promising singers to emerge from Ireland in recent years. A classical trained opera singer, in 1996 she joined the renowned Celtic Chamber Choir Anuna, and toured extensively with them as a soloist.

Referring back to the musicians -- or lack of them -- Knight-Peek continued, "The only musicians to be seen were the violinists. Unless the rest were hiding behind the curtain -- they weren't there. The entire cast was terrific, and they are all so very young. Taking Michael Flatley's place was John Carry. He is 20 years old and Flatley personally selected him to be the lead dancer of the second troupe. However, there is only one Lord of the Dance and that is Michael Flatley," declared Knight-Peek.

Flatley also has a Lord of the Dance troupe of 40 as a permanent attraction at the New York-New York resort in Las Vegas. The vast number in the troupe also makes the New York-New York stage look small. As with the touring version, there are only two live violinists. If Knight-Peek correctly suspected that pre-taping was being utilized, in Las Vegas an uproar took place when it was reported that much of the intricate and intrinsic step dancing sounds are supplemented by tape. Sometimes it isn't what you hear, rather what you think you hear. Tickets for Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance at New York-New York Hotel are $50 and $60.


MARLO THOMAS tomorrow, Dec. 8, heads to Sardi's Restaurant where the League of Professional Theatre Women will present "that girl" with the Lee Reynolds Award. Marlo starred on Broadway in Thieves and Social Security.

CORKY POLLEN writes an always interesting Marketplace column in New York Magazine. Her publication bestows annual achievement awards. This year the awards will be presented Dec. 14 at Cipriani Restaurant. Corky's son-in-law, Michael J. Fox, and his Spin City castmates will emcee the evening.

WILLIE MAYS that baseball legend will receive the lifetime achievement award. Other honorees include; Yankee pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Gernandez, Ragtime star, the talented Audra McDonald, actor/writer John Cameron Mitchell who authored Hedwig and the Angry Itch writer Malachy McCourt and restaurateurs Jonathan Nahmias and Jean Marc.


ONE NIGHT MASADA - The world premiere of Masada: The Musical, will take place Dec. 15 at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. The one night only performance will be hosted by Jon Voight. The cast features Phantom of the Opera star Davis Gaines. The musical with music and lyrics by Shuki Levy and Shell Danielson, is based on the historical account of 967 men, women and children who stood atop the mountain of Masada in defiance of the 15,000 Roman soldiers who sought to enslave them. The world premiere evening will benefit the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC - music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim with book by Hugh Wheeler has a concert performance this evening, Monday, November 7 at the Curran Theatre, San Francisco. The production features the cast of The Phantom of the Opera, with special guest artists Ruth Kobart and Meg MacKay The event benefits the National Brain Tumor Foundation.

BLUES AGAINST BLINDNESS - A Celebration of Service is set for Saturday, December 19, at the Berkeley, Calif. Community Theater. Hosted by Wavy Gravy, A Celebration of Service will feature acoustic performances by; Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, Joe Louis Walker & Big Bones, Jorma Kaukonen, Marla Muldaur, and Charlie Musselwhite.

BEACH BLANKET BABYLON San Francisco's longest running musical, trots out the tap dancing Christmas tree and a gigantic Yuletide hat for Val Diamond as it kicks off its holiday edition of the show. Complete with not so traditional Christmas carols, this edition runs through December 31 at Club Fugazi.

PERFORMANCE SPACE - Recently Drama 101, a theater bookstore in Miami inaugurated a new performance space. The 30-seat space is now home to Stage One, a company run by Teresa and Chuck Pooler, owners of Drama 101.They intend to offer it to other small, homeless theater companies - free of charge for reading and at low cost for productions.

AT YALE REP - Crumbs From the Table of Joy, a tender and insightful look at the African-American experience in l950s New York by Lynn Nottage, directed by Seret Scott, runs through Dec. 19. For her work on Crumbs From the Table of Joy Scott received the Beverly Hills NAACP Directors Award.


TONY BENNETT performs for the first time at Jones Hall, Houston in a one nighter December 15.

BOBBY SHORT and his orchestra entertain at Cafe Carlyle through December 31. Andrea Marcovicci with musical directors David Lewis and Shelly Markham at the Algonquin through January 2. Two presentations. The early show is Noel Coward while Friday and Saturday ll:30 performances are Mable Mercer.

THE COLORS OF CHRISTMAS An Evening Of Christmas Music and Greatest Hits starring; Oleta Adams, Peabo Bryson, Christopher Cross and Melissa Manchester - performing together with a full orchestra and holiday choir. This Friday, December 11, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Civic Arts Plaza.

N SYNC the Orlando, Florida based 5 member group - the youngest member is 17 - performed SRO at Upper Darby's Tower Theatre in Atlantic City.


The Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas has announced that the Stardust will no longer offer "covered" performances of their production show Enter The Night.

The showgirls have had their tops taken away.

Therefore, all guests must be 21 years of age or older to see the mammary exhibition, now visible in all performances of the award winning stage spectacular.
Next Column: December 14, 1998

Copyright: December 7, 1998. All Rights Reserved Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.

Laura Deni

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